How to start a self-care routine in 5 simple steps

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5 steps to creating a sustainable self-care routine.

I’m sure you’ve heard the hype about self care. That it’s essential and oh so important.

Otherwise, burnout is calling your name and I don’t want that for you. While self care is great, a lot of times it is displayed as bubble baths or meditation on social media. If that’s your jam then I definitely encourage you to indulge in these on a regular basis.

But when you’re new to self-care it can be hard to know what is going to make a huge difference. I know it can be challenging to commit to a new habit and incorporate it into your routine for it to just not work. 

I know I struggled in the beginning, creating a consistent self care routine that truly worked for me. At first, I just felt like I was going through the motions of what I thought self care should look like.

Or I would push it off telling myself ‘I’ll do it later’ then 10 PM would roll around and I didn’t do it and sleep is calling my name. 

It wasn’t until I realized that self care doesn’t have to be this big, overwhelming, and time-consuming thing.

In fact, it can be quite simple and something you look forward to each day. You have to feel connected to the activity and have a strong why in place so that on days you don’t feel like it, you can lean on that why.

What is self-care?

The concept of self-care is simply anything you do to take care of yourself, both for your emotional health as well as your physical health.

It can be something as small as taking a few deep breaths when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Or taking the time to go on a daily walk to focus on your thoughts (while moving your body).

Even getting those 7-9 hours of sleep every night is a form of self-care. There are many different ways to practice self care and it doesn’t have to be expensive, like a spa day. It could be reading a good book during your lunch break.

Or even watching your favorite TV show. Really, self care can be as simple as that!

I actually have a post on 52 free self care ideas if you need some inspiration. 

The key is that it’s something that makes you feel good. What works for me may not work for you and that’s okay. We are all unique individuals so while I love some 90 day fiance and journaling, bubble baths and pilates may be your cup of tea. (Maybe even drinking a cup of tea and taking a moment to be still is where it is at). 

When you take care of yourself, you can show up better for the people in your life and live life more fully. If you don’t take care of yourself, your immune system is going to suffer and you may even experience chronic stress. In the long run, adding some form of self-care is going to make a huge impact and lead to a happy and healthy life.

Just like your cell phone, you can’t run on an empty battery so take some time to relax and recharge. 

Hmmm, Self care sounds kinda selfish to me

One of the biggest misconceptions about self care is that it’s selfish.

But if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you be expected to show up for others or not want a nap at 3 PM? 

If you’re constantly running errands, working your butt off, chipping away at that never-ending to-do list, and helping others … you are going to be exhausted. Just thinking about all that is making me tired. 

And if you’re exhausted, you don’t feel good, you aren’t as focused, and you aren’t as ready to take on obstacles that may come your way. 

I know personally if I’m stressed out, my body is screaming for a break… my head hurts, I can’t think straight, and I’m cranky. It’s definitely not a good look at all. 

But if you take a few minutes each day to focus on your needs, you’re able to show up better and tackle all areas of your life.

It doesn’t have to be this long drawn-out regiment. My best self-care tip is to keep it as simple as possible. A few minutes each day will compound into massive results. 

Remember, self care is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

How to start a self-care routine: 5 simple steps to living a more present life

If you’re tired (literally and figuratively) and ready to make some changes, adding self-care to your daily routine can be a great place to start. 

Especially since it covers so many different aspects of your life. So if you’re having trouble getting started, remember that it’s okay, it isn’t easy changing your habits, and follow these steps. 

1. Determine what you need right now

The first step to starting a self care routine is to determine what you need right now.

Ask yourself: What do I need at this moment to feel better? What specific areas of my life need my attention?

Do you need to work on your mindset? Maybe currently you tend to think worst-case scenario so you need to work on having a more positive outlook. To accomplish this, I would incorporate some positive affirmations or journal in a gratitude journal to uncover the underlying reason you tend to think this way.

On the other hand, maybe you just feel like crap because you have been getting takeout too often and you can’t resist french fries (same girl so no judging here).

Then what you need is going to look completely different. Instead of positive affirmations and journaling, you should focus on incorporating more veggies into your diet and possibly drinking more water. 

So deciding what it is you need to work on to live your best life is a great place to start when building a self care routine. Then you can go ahead and decide what self-care activities you want to add to your daily self-care routine.

Once you’ve determined what you need, set some goals to get a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. SMART goals are helpful here.

2. Connect this to a strong why

After you’ve set your goals, the next step is to determine why you want to accomplish these goals in the first place. 

Think about what you would like to accomplish with your self care routine then go a little deeper.

Do you want to feel less stressed? Have more energy? Be more productive? Why is that? What is the point?

Why do you not want to feel like crap anymore? What is the reason for wanting to think less negatively? Why do you need to incorporate physical activity beyond just taking care of your body?

There are going to be times when you don’t feel like doing your self care routine. You had a crazy busy day, you didn’t get enough sleep so now you’re cranky so positive affirmations seem dumb.

There are going to be setbacks and obstacles, it is just a part of life but if you can associate your goals with a strong why, it can help keep you on track. 

3. Schedule it

One of the best ways to make sure you actually stick to your self-care routine is to schedule it into your day. I like to incorporate self-care into my morning routine. It helps me get into the right mindset to tackle my day.

But if you’re a night owl, I totally get it. Then you shouldn’t force yourself up at 5 AM to only be miserable and hate every second of it. 

If schedule it on your calendar, treat it like a dinner date with your best friend or a doctor’s appointment. You wouldn’t blow those off so you shouldn’t blow off the date or appointment with yourself as well. 

habit stacking

If just putting it on your calendar isn’t going to cut it for you, one technique that I found very helpful is habit stacking. It was originally created by BJ Fogg but I found it in James Clear’s book Atomic Habits

The idea is that you add a new habit to an already concrete habit. For example, when you brush your teeth every day (old, concrete habit) you may want to then read some positive affirmations out aloud (new habit). 

Or if the first thing you do every morning is to go to the bathroom, maybe go to the bathroom and then wash your face to kick off your self-care practice. The good news is that it can be that simple.

This way your brain can start associating the new habit with the old one and you’ll just naturally start doing it. Pick a habit that you do on autopilot and tack the new habit onto that.

This is a great place to start when you’re building new habits. More on habit stacking can be found here:

If you take the time to incorporate this new self care habit into your routine, then you are more likely to actually do it. If you’re a checklist kinda girl, creating a self-care checklist may be a great way to keep yourself accountable with your own self-care routine.

4. Check in with yourself

After you’ve been doing your self care routine for a while, it’s important to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling and if it is actually making an impact in your life.

The point here is not to waste your time but actually make a positive change to your routine so that you can show up fully and avoid burnout. 

So ask yourself, are you feeling less stressed? More energized? More productive? If you’re not seeing the results you want, something has gotta give. But what needs to change?

Taking the time to track how you’re feeling emotionally and physically can help you identify some patterns. Is there a consistent moment in your day that is triggering you? Being aware of the issue is key otherwise you don’t know what needs fixing.

If you aren’t sure what you should be tracking or where to start to make sure you aren’t wasting your time, I suggest checking out my Ultimate Self Care Planner.  It has everything you would need to start tracking different emotions and environmental changes that would affect the way you’re feeling. It is definitely a powerful tool to have as you embark on this journey.

5. Be open to trying new things

The final step is to remember that your self-care practice should evolve as you evolve. It isn’t going to be a set-and-forget kinda thing. 

I would encourage you to start small. It wouldn’t be wise to try to do all the things right out of the gate. Instead, try one thing and see how it works.

If you need a starting point, I do have a free 30 day self care challenge for you. With this challenge, you’ll get 30 different ideas to try over the next month. With anything personal growth-related, it is all about the journey, not the destination. 

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to self care. What works for you might not work for someone else. The key is to find what works for you and to be flexible as your needs change over time.

Heck, what works for you now may not work next year as you grow and learn more about what you need. 

Final Thoughts

Self care is a journey, not a destination. The most important thing is to just start somewhere and try new things. You truly grow when you have the courage to take a step outside your comfort zone. 

Taking small steps towards a healthier life can lead to massive results. A lot of people make self-care more complicated than it needs to be. It could be as simple as calling a family member or incorporating healthy meals twice a week.

Having a self-care plan is the best way to truly reap the benefits. Spending time with yourself is one of the small ways that you can get to know yourself better and be able to create a life that you love.

And if you truly give self-care a shot, beyond just going through the motions or what the experts suggest, I promise you you’ll discover some truly amazing things about yourself and finally get out of that burnout hamster wheel.

Until next time,


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How to start a self-care routine in 5 simple steps

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